Monday, August 29, 2016

Ipsy Review

Ipsy is a monthly makeup and beauty subscription plan in the same vein as Birchbox. For $10 per month, Ipsy sends out either full or sample-sized versions of various beauty products in an effort to help you find your new favorites.

And they send them in a cute makeup bag…

While I guess I can appreciate the aesthetics of that purse-sized zip bag, that’s really the review from my daughters, age 15 and 17. I’ll venture a guess that most dads both don’t wear makeup and aren’t well-versed in vanity-mirror-area lingo, so, as a dad, I am depending on my daughters to help me with this review.

How Does It Work?

The subscription process begins with the obligatory subscription plan survey---de rigueur in this product space because these companies need to know about you so they send products that are useful and meaningful. Otherwise, people would be canceling left and right. Nobody is going to pay for a box of stuff they have no use for, no matter how convenient it is to pick it up off your front porch.
Anyway, I had my daughters take the quiz together, and luckily, they are toned and colored and hued similarly (go genetics and heredity). I saw questions like, “What is your skin tone?” and “What color are your eyes?”

The questionnaire also got into what type of looks are they trying to create (Hip/Edgy, Sporty, Professional, Worldly…to name a few).

Next, my daughters were shown pictures of stylists and asked which ones they relate to most.
Then came questions about their comfort level with makeup application and how adventurous they are with trying new products.

Yay for Make up! 
And then (yes, there’s more) which brand would they like to try (from what appeared to me must have been a rather exhaustive list of makeup brands).

Next, what kind of makeup products do they like? Mascara? Blush? Lipstick? Etc.

Then, what kind of skincare, haircare, and nail care products? Mask? Exfoliant? Serum? Etc.

And then…Where do you shop? Target? Sephora? Etc.

Yes, there’s still more…Skin concerns? Redness? Wrinkles? Acne? Etc.

And finally, a description of their hair…Needs volume. Extreme Curl. Etc.

I listed all of that because I wanted to paint (nails? No…no) the picture of how thorough Ipsy is. 

They really make an attempt to provide their customers with both value and products they can use.

My Experience With Ipsy

Here’s what my girls got in their first cute makeup case…

A full-sized Mellow Cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow in Plum (retail price $8). The gals said they loved the color and the way the eyeshadow had a “low-key shine to it.” I’m going to interpret “low-key” as subtle. Needless to say, they loved the eyeshadow.

Next, bareMinerals Gen Nude Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Swag (2 ml, retail value $8.30). It looked pink to me, but the girls said mauve. We all agreed that it smelled like chocolate cake. Back to the girls: this Swag color went well with the Plum eyeshadow, and would work well in various other makeup situations.

The next products were Shray Queen Bee Mask and Shray Ms. Amazing Mask (retail value $6 each). The Queen Bee mask was made with honey and designed to treat acne and redness. My older daughter tried it and liked it, especially the fact that it only requires ten minutes to do the job. She has things to do…

My younger daughter tried the Ms. Amazing mask and enjoyed it as well. It hydrates just like the Bee Mask, and has a nice fragrance as well.

The next product in the bag was a full-sized Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish in No Filter (retail $15). My girls said it went on really well, providing great coverage after one coat. And the color, although neutral, was a pretty, light lilac.

Finally, also included was Not Soap, Radio Joy Inducing Hand and Body Lotion (20 ml, value of $1). Smells like lemon meringue pie to me. The girls said it absorbed well, didn’t feel heavy and greasy. They went through the trial size lickety-split. 

The Verdict

The box had an overall value of $44, which is amazing for a $10 subscription, especially considering that my daughters liked every single product. Definitely a thumbs up for Ipsy ( I’m going to get a subscription for each both girls, instead of making them share one.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Frank & Oak Review

So just what is Frank and Oak?

Frank and Oak is yet another monthly men's subscription company which offers a monthly delivery of clothing for a regular subscription price. I never realized just how many of these there were until I started checking out their services and writing reviews.

The Frank and Oak brand reports a manifesto which begins with the following questions: “What will you do today? How will you outfit the day? Will you rise to your ambition? Will you follow what instinct stirs?”  It’s pretty catchy and inspirational, I guess. Later on, the manifesto tells me that “Today can transform, if you choose it.”

And finally, as if you have some sort of obligation to live up to their styles: “Don’t just dress up. Step up.” Furthermore, they advertise a purposeful style which will serve you equally well in “the boardroom, the bar, or brunch,” personalized service (24/7), and shared experiences through the “events [they] throw and the stories [they] tell.”


The company is based in Montreal, Canada, and the styles and schemes all tend toward a rustic, outdoorsy vibe. As such, the monthly subscription service is called The Hunt Club --- I mean, Elevate…which isn’t a monthly subscription service at all. Things have changed quite a bit at Frank and Oak over the past few years. They’ve opened several stores and even have had their fashions included in several runway-type shows.

How Does it Work?

So here is how the Elevate program works…A one-time annual fee of $20 provides access to Frank and Oak’s exclusive member benefits. Those benefits include free express shipping (2-4 days), free returns, and a 5% store credit on every purchase.

Frank and Oak then offers high-quality clothes at affordable prices. They are able to do this because they cut out the middle man. “We are the designer, retailer, and manufacturer.” However, the next area in the “how-it-works” explanation says that the membership is limited, 100% free, but access is dependent on availability.

There seems to be some sort of transition happening within the company. So the best way to figure out what is going on is to give them a try…

My Experience With Frank and Oak..

The Elevate program comes with a 90-day free trial of the above member benefits. I signed up and they sent me a box of items to try on, keep (and pay for) if I liked, or return (for free) if I didn’t. It was now that I learned about the “limited access” to particular products. They only produce a limited number of their particular styles, creating a buzz for the hot items, and encouraging customers to visit the site often so they don’t miss out.

Some of the items I was hoping to receive in my order were not available. Kind of a bummer. I did receive some nice looking clothes. A cool pair of distressed jeans, a white, light-fabric button-down shirt, a grey tweed jacket, and a green and blue, horizontal-striped knit tie. Honestly, it’s a pretty freakin’ sweet looking outfit, straight off of some northeastern college campus in the fall.
However, the shirt did not fit well. It was uncomfortable through the chest area. I don’t have a model’s build (thin and long), so in order to get a good fit around my midsection, I’d be able to fit two of my necks up top.

The jeans fit pretty well, but still tended to drop a little as I moved. Again, not cut for a guy like me. The jacket fit was reasonable because I could wear it open, but buttoning it was not much of an option.  I dig the tie.

The Verdict.....

In reading up on the history of Frank and Oak, I’ve learned that they’ve made some strides in the right direction as far as their business model is concerned. It’s nice that you get a crate of clothes to try each month, but even though the return shipping is free, it’s still a pain in the neck to deal with that trip to the post office each month. A trip I know I’m going to take because I don’t have the right build for the Frank and Oak cut of clothes.

All in all, I have to give Frank and Oak a negative review, especially if you are an average dude on the way to a dad bod. If you’re built like a fashion model, this might be right up your alley and I encourage you to check them out at But if that’s the case, you probably work for a clothing company already and get your stuff for free.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Trendy Butler Review

What Makes Trendy Butler Special?

Trendy Butler is a monthly men’s apparel subscription service. They are similar to Fashion Stork and Trunk Club in that they send clothing from well-known brands, but they also dig deep to find fresh new fashions from up-and-coming designers.

The process is similar to all of the other companies in the men’s clothing subscription space. First, create a style profile so that (second) the stylist can select clothing items which (finally) get shipped to you. The website provides seven examples boxes to show prospective customers what they could receive in a given month. “Example Box 1”contained a button-down shirt and joggers totaling $161.
$161 if you were to pay retail. But the subscription price for Trendy Butler is $65 per month. The “example box” provides a 60% discount (savings of $96). In fact, each shipment is guaranteed to contain at least $150 worth of products, for which the customer only pays $65. (They also advertise that you may return any items for free and receive replacement items. The exchange must happen within seven business days of receiving the package)-

Of course, it’s easy to create a box that would wow prospective customers with such savings. But how does Trendy Butler do in practice? I took to the internet to find out....

One reviewer received a sharp zip-up fleece-lined sweatshirt. It was fashionable enough to be worn as a sweater. The reviewer was unfamiliar the brand (Cohesive & Co), so she looked it up and found that it was sold a high-end department stores like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom’s, and is not cheap. Furthermore, her husband, who is a finicky dresser, loved the sweatshirt and immediately started wearing it. 

Review after review of Trendy Butler reveal that customers are receiving quality, stylish clothing that are an extremely good value. The $150 guarantee was maintained for all the reviews I read. It is rare to find a subscription service with such a high rate of positive feedback.

My Trendy Butler Experience.....

So is Trendy Butler too good to be true? I decided to start my own subscription to find out. One thing that jumped out at me was that I was able to choose my style preferences right away with ease......
Style Preference Casual & Stylish
That is not the case with most other men's subscriptions services in this space. That made me trust Trendy Butler right away. I know these companies are keeping people from gumming up their websites with user profiles that never get to the level of subscription, but it feels like they are hiding something when I have to type in credit card information before I really fill anything out about my fashion preferences.

Upon clicking the “Get Started” button, you are given three choices regarding your current style: Casual and Stylish; Work Hard, Play Hard; or Diverse Taste. Casual and Stylish fit the bill for me. Next it was time for color selections: blacks and greys, beige and blues and browns, or red and orange and purples. Middle-of-the-road mellow for me. I selected Mr. Nice Guy (beige, blue, grey, pink, brown). Next: Plain, Graphic or Variety? I didn’t have a huge preference, so I went with variety. Finally, top size and bottom size. Check and check. I was all ready to go.

I received my first package in about a week and a half. It contained three items with a total value of over $200!

The first item was a flannel shirt from Jachs Mfg Co, a company I had never heard of. Cream, navy, and a deep red. The size and fit were right on. Very cool shirt.  Next was an olive thermal shirt to layer with the flannel by Rogue. Again, great size and fit and, of course, it went very well with the flannel shirt.  To top it off (literally), they sent a grey, zip-up hoodie by Kinetix (a company they draw from often, I have learned). As with the other two items, sizing and fit were perfect.

The Verdict....

I have to admit, I canceled my subscription with Fashion Stork as soon as I had such a favorable experience with Trendy Butler. The price and quality of the items the send are second-to-none. If you are in the market for a men’s clothing subscription service (and even if you aren’t!), I enthusiastically recommend Trendy Butler. I think you will like them also, check them out at You will find the website and interface are easy to use and most importantly the clothes are 100% on point.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Five Four Club - Men's Subscription Box Review

My Five Four Experience

Self described as a company which provides “a curated wardrobe for every season, delivered to your door every month,” putting it in the same genre of online shop as Trunk Club and Fashion Stork. One way in which Five Four Club differs from these is that it produces its own line of clothing.

Andres Izquieta, CEO and Creative Director of Five Four Club, states that the mission of his business is to help men look their best by solving common problems they encounter. “…they don’t have time to shop, don’t care to shop, or don’t know what to buy. We’ve made it easy for you with our service that consists of a wide collection of styles…”
Five Four Box Contents Depend on Your Size, Weight, and Height

What Makes Five Four Club Different?

Another way in which Five Four Club is different from other monthly subscription fashion services is that they also have an online store from which members can choose and purchase clothing. All items available are exclusive to Five Four Club and its members.

A third way in which Five Four Club is different is discounted pricing. Reviews of other clubs reveal that members paid premium prices for the convenience of getting high quality clothing picked by a stylist delivered right to their doors. Five Four Club is only $60 a month, and offers deeply-discounted deals, such as $240 worth of clothing for that $60 fee. Additionally, members can save more than 50%---and up to 80%---of retail value when shopping at the online store.
Five Four Club sounds like the best of all worlds, right? However, I wanted to research this for myself, and here’s what I found…

A simple search reveals scores of not only dissatisfied customers, but customers who have suffered the “worst customer service” of their lives.

One customer called Five Four Club a “complete rip off,” stating that “the website shows stylish outfits but all you get is the cheap undershirt.” He also noted that it is next to impossible to contact customer service to cancel further orders. “Stay FAR AWAY from this company…It’s a ripoff.”

A female customer reported that she tried Five Four Club for her husband, who hates to shop. She used a promo code for $30 for the first two months instead of regular $60 subscription fee. The shopping cart reflected the discount, but she was charged $60 on her credit card anyway. Each month. Customer service told her that they could not issue a refund, and, in her words, “offered me no option where I didn’t have to spend more money.” The customer service representative hung up on her when she asked to cancel. The customer also reported that the clothing was of poor quality and the sizes ran big.

It continues, and it gets worse...

One customer was unhappy with Five Four Club, so he canceled, then decided to give them another chance, hoping that the product had improved. It hadn’t. In fact, it didn’t even stay the same. It got worse! “The company is a JOKE! Don’t do it.”

Another unhappy customer says that Five Four Club “are thieves.” He joined the VIP club, having been told that all exchanges would be accepted, no problem…Well over half of the clothes her received didn’t fit, including all varieties of shirts and pants. He returned eight items and Five Four Club sent him three t-shirts instead. They refused to refund his money, so he had to file a fraud case with his credit card company.

My experience...

But before I totally pan Five Four Club, I wanted to try it for myself. As others described, I went through the initial processes of signing up and setting my preferences. I paid for my first package in mid-February, and had to contact the company three times in order to receive it…in early April. The clothes were not terrible looking, but close inspection showed shoddy workmanship with loose threads present throughout clothing items, and zippers that didn’t work smoothly. I canceled my subscription (which was not an easy task), and I have to say that I agree with the other reviews I’ve read. Five Four Club is not a service worth subscribing to.


All in all, many reviews landed on one star out of five, and that high because the reviewer couldn’t choose zero stars. Packages are paid for then not shipped. Perhaps the most telling quote of all came from Five Four Club “Chat Manager” Dee. She was asked by a customer if he could get his money back. “Good luck with that,” she said. That said, if you still want to check out Five Four Club.....Be my guest, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Run---don’t walk--- AWAY from Five Four Club.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dollar Shave Club Review

Replacement blades for razors are expensive. Dollar Shave Club arrived on the scene in 2011 to tap into a market ripe for a cheaper alternative.

The Dollar Shave Club site states that your first shipment will contain a free handle, a free sleeve of blades, and a container of Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter. And here’s the real draw: “When you don’t overpay for blades, you can use a fresh one anytime you want. It’s life-changing.”

What is Dollar Shave Club?

There are three levels of blade to choose from. There’s the titular, $1 per month blade and corresponding handle, as well as $6 and $9 per month handle and blades. You are provided with enough blades to use a fresh one each week.

The $1 blade, known as the “Humble Twin,” features (you guessed it) two blades. The $6 “4X” has four blades, and the $9 “Executive” has 6 blades. All blades are crafted from stainless steel.
The Dollar Shave Club site also indicates that you can change your blade subscription plan at any time, and they will ship the new handle to you for free.

Of course, they also offer a wide variety of creams, cleansers, body bars, hair care products, sunscreens, moisturizers, and even “buttwipes” for men.

While I do have a beard, I still shave above and below it regularly to maintain a sharp look. So I decided to give the Dollar Shave Club a try.

Gillette Fusion replacement blades are extremely expensive ($4 or $5 each). The Bic disposable razor is much less expensive, but does a hack job on my face. So the low price and high quality of the razors provided by Dollar Shave Club seemed like the perfect solution for me.

My Experience With Dollar Shave Club

I decided to try the $6 per month, “4X,” which is supposed to be comparable to the Gillette Fusion. My handle and first month’s blades came free with the Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter.
And in the interest of a completely honest review, I shaved my beard off!

Handsome Devil
Before Dollar Shave Club

First of all, I really liked the shave butter. My skin is sensitive, and the product protected and softened my face, and allowed the blades to glide smoothly across my skin. I’ve used other shaving creams and gels that were just as effective, and about the same price. It’s a good product, but not a game changer.
Handsome Devil
Post Dollar Shave Club

But the blades, my friend. The blades. The blades are excellent, comparable to something Gillette would put out. But at a reduced price. As I said above, they provide enough blades so that you can trade out for a new one each week.

So when the razors are comparable, and you can get that new-blade feel every single week, Dollar Shave Club becomes a no-brainer.

What’s also nice about Dollar Shave Club is that there are no fees, and no commitments as you can cancel at any time. Furthermore, if you don’t shave as frequently (like me with my beard), you can have the blades delivered every two months instead of every month. That sort of customization is nice from a club that is so inexpensive.

In the interest of due diligence, I took the internet to seek out what others thought of Dollar Shave Club. For the most part, folks agreed with me. Of course, there were some negative reviews, including ones which “do the math” and say that an electric razor delivers more value per shave.

But, like the Bic disposables, I’ve never used an electric razor that gave me a close, smooth shave, especially on my neck.

So, I will be keeping my Dollar Shave Club subscription, and I encourage you to start one for yourself as well.